ScreenCrush’s Comic Strip is a weekly roundup of the hottest superhero movie/TV news items. From Marvel to DC and points in between, if it pertains to costumed comic book heroes, we’re covering it here, bringing you our expert analysis. This week, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ keeps on hanging around, ‘Batman v Superman’ spoilers are revealed, and new LEGO sets may offer slight spoilers for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’
The ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Victory Lap
James Gunn’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ came, saw, conquered, came again on DVD and Blu-ray, and conquered one more time. At this point, the film has solidified itself as the highest grosser of the year and it’s going to be under a whole lot of Christmas trees in the coming days. That means it’s done for a little while, right? No more ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’s news for a little while?
Marvel and James Gunn both know they have a phenomenon on their hands and they’re going to take advantage of their newly expanded fan base by keeping the movie on the tips of everyone’s tongues. This is their victory lap … and it’s a victory lap that’s going to last for at least a little while longer.
First, Gunn spoke with Vulture about the most difficult parts of writing the screenplay and he revealed that working the Marvel Universe Big Bad Thanos into the movie was pretty tricky:
…the first thing that comes to mind as the hardest thing to write is the Thanos scene. That was really difficult.
There’s pressure with Thanos because you’re setting up this gigantic character that, in one way, isn’t really a part of your movie. His presence doesn’t really serve being in ‘Guardians,’ and having Thanos be in that scene was more helpful to the Marvel universe than it was to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ I always wanted to have Thanos in there, but from a structural standpoint, you don’t need him. So that’s part of it, and then part of it is the fact that you’re setting up this incredibly powerful character, but you don’t want to belittle the actual antagonist of the film, which is Ronan. You don’t want him to seem like a big wussy. So how do you make that work?
For the record, here is Thanos’ small appearance as it reads in the screenplay:
Gunn also continued to use social media to keep fans engaged (which he has been doing long before he was working for Marvel), taking advantage of current events for a big laugh:
A photo posted by James Gunn (@jamesgunn) on Dec 12, 2014 at 6:37pm PST
Gunn also revealed the extended original version of “Awesome Mix Vol. 1,” which includes all of the songs from the final movie as well as a few that didn’t make the cut. The ones that got the axe are in bold below. Maybe we’ll hear them in the sequel?
“I’m Not in Love” – 10cc
“Come and Get Your Love” – Redbone
“Go All the Way” – Raspberries
“Never Been to Spain” – Three Dog Night
“Hooked on a Feeling” – Blue Swede
“Magic” – Pilot
“The Pina Colada Song” – Rupert Holmes
“Livin’ Thing” – Electric Light Orchestra
“Moonage Daydream” – David Bowie
“Fooled Around and Fell in Love” – Elvin Bishop
“Fox on the Run” – The Sweet
“Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways
“Spirit in the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
“O-O-H Child” – Five Stairsteps
“Surrender” – Cheap Trick
And that brings us to the toys. Hot Toys, those purveyors of very cool, very detailed, very expensive figures has unveiled their take on the best character of 2014. Yes, we are talking about dancing baby Groot:
Oh, and they also made a Peter Quill/Star Lord figure that does what the vast majority of toy does not: actually capture the likeness of the actor its representing. This is probably the Ultimate Chris Pratt Action Figure:
Make you sure check out more images of this figure over at Hot Toys’ Facebook page.
Warner Bros. Heard Your ‘Man of Steel’ Complaints (and More)
Remember how a lot of people were deeply uncomfortable with the amount of destruction during the climax of ‘Man of Steel,’ where Superman seemingly killed thousands of people in his final fight with Zod? Well, it sounds like Warner Bros. heard your complaints. In a slightly spoiler-y look at the script for ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ it was revealed that Henry Cavill’s Superman has learned a lot about avoiding collateral damage in the new movie. This next bit is all first act spoilers, so tread cautiously:
The movie reportedly begins with the origins of Batman before flashing forward to Bruce Wayne’s arrival in Metropolis during Superman’s big fight with Zod from ‘Man of Steel.’ Following that, the script is very Superman-centric, and takes place a couple of years after the first film—Lois Lane and Clark Kent live together, and Kent still works at the Daily Planet. While Lois is covering a story on location in the Middle East, Superman swoops in to help her out, and not every country is a big fan of America’s superhero, particularly China.
Superman gets involved in a fight with a criminal and says that he won’t break the guy’s neck, but instead send him to jail. Later, he threatens to break the bad guy’s back, which clashes with his previous declaration. Later, during a climactic fight, General Swanwick informs the military that Superman will move the danger away from Metropolis because that’s what the good guys do.
It sounds slightly clunky, but hey, at least the sequel is acknowledging Superman’s accidental genocide rather than simply sweeping it under the rug. If you want more details (and you know you do), follow the link above.
Meanwhile, David Ayer’s ‘Suicide Squad’ has found its Amanda Waller in the form on Oscar nominee Viola Davis. In addition to simply being a terrific actress, she’s pretty much playing a trial run of the character on ‘How to Get Away with Murder,’ where her ability to play tough and ruthless is being utilized quite well. This is another fine piece of casting for an ensemble that simply couldn’t be crazier.
Speaking of great female DC characters, an unnerving (but unconfirmed) rumor suggests that Warner Bros. has hired six different screenwriters to pen six different ‘Wonder Woman’ scripts, which would then be merged into a final screenplay. That not only sounds like the ickiest way to construct a movie, but also like something director Michelle MacLaren wouldn’t put up with. Hopefully, we’ll learn more soon enough.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and Other Marvel Chatter
With the next ‘Avengers’ movie only a few months away, Marvel’s grip on security has begun to slip thanks to the same force that always forces these big movies to tip their hands too early: the toys.
First up is this German ad for upcoming ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’ LEGO sets. We examined these in almost excessive detail right over here, but here is the short version: these sets depict a raid on Baron von Strucker’s Hydra compound (presumably the first scene of the movie) and a major action scene at Avengers tower that involves one of Ultron’s drones stealing Loki’s staff. What?! Yeah, we know. Crazy.
It should also not surprise you that Iron Man will get a fancy new set of armor at some point during the movie, but Hot Toys’ fancy new sculpt has given us our first look at the new design. Writing superhero movies seems to require one unique skill: you need to find good narrative excuses for characters to get new costumes so the studios can sell new toys. So, expect Ultron to wreck Tony’s current armor at some point in the movie so he’s forced to build this:
There are a lot more pictures of that toy at the link above as well.
Let’s step away from the ‘Avengers’ for one moment to take a look at the latest news involving Spider-Man’s potential inclusion in the MCU. As we reported last week, talks broke down between Sony and Marvel Studios over sharing the character and producing a new trilogy, but that didn’t stop Joe and Anthony Russo from reaching out to Sony. The pair, who helmed ‘Captain America: The Winter Solider’ and are already set to tackle ‘The Avengers: Infinity War,’ apparently corresponded with Sony, offering to produce and oversee a new series of Spidey movies. If Marvel and Sony can come to an agreement, it’s hard to think of a someone more qualified for the job.
Superhero Updates For Netflix and Regular ‘Ol TV
What are we to make of the latest images from Marvel’s upcoming ‘Daredevil’ Netflix series? Charlie Cox still looks like a fine Matt Murdock, but that black costume has got to go. Hopefully, he’ll only wear it for a few episodes before putting on his classic red duds because yikes.
— Marvel Studios NewZ (@MarvelNewz) December 18, 2014
As for Marvel on old school television, ABC’s ‘Agent Carter’ has revealed a new poster, which is all about Hayley Atwell, her gun, and her spiffy wardrobe. There are far worse ways to sell an event series:
Across the superhero dividing line, ‘The Flash’ added two new actors to its rapidly swelling cast. First, ‘The Tomorrow People’ star Peyton List has signed on to play Lisa Snart, AKA, the sister to the villainous Captain Cold, AKA, the villainess known as Golden Glider. She’ll make her grand debut sometime in 2015. Speaking of siblings, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ actor Nicholas Gonzalez has signed on to play Dante Ramon, Cisco’s brother. How he’ll function in the show itself is currently unknown.
Finally, NBC’s ‘Constantine’ will return in a new timeslot this January, which hopefully is part of the network retooling this promising show. Maybe they took the break to help fix its myriad issues? Maybe. We’ve rarely wanted to like a show more.
Talk, Talk, Talk
If you’re connected to a superhero movie franchise in any way, people are going to ask you about it and print your answers whether you have something relevant to say or not. So let’s take this week’s round-up of “actors talking or not talking about their comic book roles” and grade them on their effectiveness. Ready? Go!
Let’s start with Hugh Jackman, who went on the Happy Sad Confused podcast to discuss his career, which, naturally, took a turn into upcoming ‘X-Men’ movies. When asked about his role in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ he showcased his knack for talking a lot without saying anything relevant:
I have been speaking to the guys, and I’m not at liberty to tell exactly what’s going on. Which is largely framing my answer here … But there’s still a lot unknown about that, actually. There are some very exciting things about integrating the whole X-Men world, including the Wolverine movie. There’s some really cool things going on.
When asked about a third solo film, a follow-up to ‘The Wolverine,’ he was even less forthcoming:
I’m very, very excited about that, actually.
Rating: 4/10. Few people are as good at spewing charming BS as Jackman, but BS is BS is BS.
This one is very much a heist film. It has all the fun, tension and drama of a good heist film. The heist is being masterminded by myself, my father and Scott Lang.
She went on to praise Marvel Studios, which feels like an attempt to rebuild bridges for the fans who felt burnt by original director Edgar Wright walking away from the production:
I’ve been astounded to discover how good to their teams and crew that Marvel are. They’re so collaborative, so smart with their stories. They have rich, dynamic characters which are so much fun to play. I expected I’d be a cog in the wheel of a big machine—I wasn’t sure I’d like this experience. But I’ve been so astounded at how pleasurable the whole experience has been.
Rating: 8/10. Actual plot information and a genuine attempt to help fans feel better about a troubled production? That’s how you do it.
And then there’s Cobie Smulders, who will return as Maria Hill in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’ But what will she be doing in the movie? Let’s just say that it wasn’t just a joke when we saw her applying for a job with Stark Industries:
There’s so many pieces to this giant puzzle, and I’m happy that Maria Hill is one of them. She’s working for Tony Stark, yes, but they shot so many locations all over the world and this team is out doing all sorts of things. So I like to think that Maria is at headquarters, trying to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. And working for Tony Stark is a whole other ballgame. She doesn’t have S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel to back her up at her disposal, so it’s an entirely different vibe for her.
Rating: 7/10. Smulders is a nice presence in these movies and we are happy to hear that she’s involved. At the same time, her quote really does sound like “I’m not in it much, but i do cool stuff off camera!”
And then there’s Frank Grillo, AKA, Crossbones, who is set to return in ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ In the middle of a pretty interesting profile, he claims that his villain could take out any Avenger. Yes, even the Hulk:
The Hulk is just a big thug who comes at you. He comes out swinging. Crossbones is much smarter than that. Plus, he’s got weapons. The Hulk has no weapons. He’s an idiot. And he’s green. Crossbones doesn’t lose to people who are green. I’ll fight any of those guys. Any of them.
Rating: 10/10. More superhero movie actors need to get into the ancient geek debate of which superheroes will win in a fight.